Schizophrenia is a mental disorder consisting of a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior. A spectrum disorder, schizophrenia ranges from mild to severe hallucinations, delusions, and other related symptoms. Treatment for schizophrenia often includes antipsychotic medications, although many of them have severe side effects that may cause a person to feel apprehensive. In addition to medication, a person with schizophrenia typically undergoes individual therapy, social skills training, family therapy, and vocational rehabilitation. If you know of a loved one who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, perhaps they’ve already gone through these various aspects of treatment. They may currently be considering stopping medication for a variety of reasons:

  • They feel they may no longer need it if their symptoms have improved
  • The side effects of the medication may reduce their ability to follow proper directions for their medication
  • They may feel embarrassed to take the medication because they have a mental illness
  • If the individual has paranoid schizophrenia, they may not trust the doctor
  • The medication gives them unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects such as weight gain, sleepiness, stiffness, higher risk of developing diabetes, and rarely, involuntary muscle movements

Non-adherence to medication is particularly challenging for any health condition but, for those with schizophrenia, the risks may be more severe. For example, stopping medication could increase the risk of the following occurring:

  • Impaired functioning
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Worsening of symptoms
  • Self-neglect and self-harm
  • Aggression and substance misuse
  • Increased vulnerability to stigma and isolation
  • Increased risk of hospitalization, outpatient appointments, and crisis attendances

A study published in the journal Patient Related Outcome Measures emphasized that a variety of measures are to be taken in order to improve medication adherence among individuals with schizophrenia, such as shared decision making between client and physician, regular assessment by the doctor, simplified medication regime, ensuring that the medication is effective and that side effects are managed, and promoting positive communication between the client and physician.

If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and are considering stopping your medication, speak with your physician today. Not taking your medication could have a significant impact on your health and well-being, making it vital that you follow your physician’s instructions moving forward. If you haven’t sought treatment yet, recovery is possible and there are ways to better manage your symptoms. Seek help today.

Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.

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